Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is on track to save £1.6m a year through the use of an electronic medical record system.

The trust launched its EMR project one year ago. It provides clinicians with access to a patient’s historic records and displays real-time information from the patient administration system and a number of others including pathology and radiology.

Around 200,000 case notes out of 450,000 have now been scanned into the system – totalling about 45m pieces of paper. Scanning of all the notes is due to be completed by early 2014 and 155 consultants out of 177 have been trained on the system.

The trust’s director of strategic development, Mark Magrath, told eHealth Insider the implementation costs over ten years are £6.9m - most of which is spent in the first three years. Over the same time period, he said the running costs are £7.5m, while the cash-releasing savings are projected to be £17.7m.

From 2014, following the “up-front investment phase”, running costs will be £925,000 and cash releasing savings will be £2.6m, Magrath said.

The original EMR tender was won by a supplier consortium and the system is now owned by Fortrus, which provides ongoing support. The trust has built its own scanning operation and trained staff to index documents to tease out relevant information. This is then “pushed” to clinicians when they log-in to see a patient record. Documents are attached to specific patient events that clinicians can view on a timeline.

The 45-member team includes forward scanning, archive scanning and scanning on demand. Historical notes are not indexed unless the hospital knows the patient will be attending again soon. Over the past six months, more than 19,000 patients have been seen with an EMR record across 25 specialties.

A clinical advisory group of 12, led by consultant colorectal surgeon Ian Linehan, has been the driving force behind the system’s development. Linehan said the project is unique in that the technology is so well regarded that clinicians are asking when they can go live with it. The trust is also out to tender for an electronic patient record system, which will be integrated with the EMR.

Basildon and Thurrock is holding a showcase day on 4 December to share the work they have done with other NHS trusts. “The important message is that it’s not all smooth, we have had problems and we have sorted them,” said Linehan